NOTE: This is the live blog from Thursday, April 23, 2020. Click here for the live blog for Friday, April 24, 2020.
More than 50,000 people have been tested for the novel coronavirus in Colorado and of those, about 10,800 people tested positive, according to data released Wednesday afternoon by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
READ MORE: List of Colorado businesses that are open
Click here for the latest update on the number of cases, the age, gender and location of presumptive positive, indeterminate and confirmed cases from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Below, we're updating this blog with the latest information regarding COVID-19 in Colorado.
Thursday, April 23
7 p.m. | Tri-County Health Department closes Walmart in Aurora after COVID-19 deaths among employees
The Tri-County Health Department said it has closed the Walmart located at 14000 E. Exposition in Aurora "after confirming the death of one employee, one third-party contracted employee, and a third death of the employee's family member" according to a news release.
The deaths include a 72-year-old female employee; her 63-year-old husband, who did not work at the store; and a 69-year-old male who worked for an independent security company, the TCHD said.
The TCHD also issued an "order to close" this afternoon following a series of complaints from employees and shoppers regarding the lack of social distancing, too many people at the store at one time, and employees not wearing masks or face coverings.
“We are extremely saddened by this news and offer our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the three people we lost,” said John M. Douglas, Jr., MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department. “These deaths underscore the severity of the highly-contagious coronavirus, and the need for diligent safety precautions to prevent any further spread, including the wearing of masks."
Mayor Michael Hancock will extend the city’s stay-at-home order until at least May 8, a source with knowledge of the plan told Denver7 Thursday.
"Extending our stay-at-home order will give us more time to do the things necessary for our community to re-open safely & in stages," Hancock wrote in a tweet Thursday evening. "So, we need a little more time to scale up testing & tracing, & provide our resident & biz w/ the kind of specific guidance they are asking for."
5:35 p.m. | Tri-County Health studying the possibility of extending stay-at-home orders until May 8
Tri-County Health Department officials say they are studying current trends of COVID-19 and will review the need to extend the stay-at-home order until May 8 for "specific locations that are still experiencing high numbers of people who are sick with COVID-19." A decision is expected by Sunday, April 26, when the state-wide stay-at-home order is set to expire.
5:26 p.m. | Polis extends executive order on state agencies
Gov. Polis is extending an executive order authorizing certain State agencies to promulgate and issue emergency rules extending the expiration date for certain licenses and other documents to limit in-person renewals and enable state agencies to better respond to COVID-19. This includes state park passes and licenses for health care facilities, Medicaid and CHIP providers, commercial drivers, and more.
4:52 p.m. | Colorado receives system to decontaminate N95 masks
Colorado has received a system used to decontaminate up to 80,000 used N95 masks per day, the state announced Thursday. Public health officials mentioned that the machine was on its way weeks ago.
The Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System will be installed at the Adams County Fairgrounds in the Exhibit Hall on Thursday, officials said.
The machines use vaporized hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate the N95 respirators. Officials say that a single N95 respirator can be reused up to 20 times when the system is used.
The state says the decontamination process will be free and that all health care personnel are eligible for it. Non-medical personnel who are part of the COVID-19 emergency response may qualify as a health care worker under Battelle’s emergency use authorization.
People can sign up to get N95 respirators cleaned at battelle.org/decon.
The company will then email people with links to a contract, more instructions and their point of contact with Battelle. More on the full process can be found here.
HHS and FEMA have approved Colorado for another one of the machines, which the state said is “being secured within the state.”
4:34 p.m. | Aurora Mayor: "Lots of ongoing discussion about the need to extend the stay-at-home order"
Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman says there's "lots of ongoing discussions" among Denver metro area public health officials about the need to extend the stay-at-home order, which is set to end state-wide on Sunday, April 26.
"Once county public health officials meet the the minimum requirements, established by Governor Polis's orders, they may enact tougher requirements," Coffman said.
1/3 Lots of ongoing discussions among Denver metro area public health officials about the need to extend the "stay-at-home" order for up to two weeks longer. They are concerned that its too early to relax it. The Governor's stay-at-home order runs through April 26th.— AuroraMayorMike (@AuroraMayorMike) April 23, 2020
The House voted 388-5 to pass a $480 billion package to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, help hospitals and up testing capabilities. The measure now heads to the president’s desk.
4 p.m. | More than 44 reported dead Wednesday into Thursday from coronavirus as state adds "probable" deaths from the virus to official count
The number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus in the state has grown to 11,262 cases, an uptick of 384 cases from Wednesday, according to the latest numbers provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
A total of 2,237 people have been hospitalized, 114 more than reported a day prior, and 52,324 people have been tested (an additional 1,679 more than reported Wednesday). The state also reported 552 deaths Thursday, 44 more than reported a day prior - which CDPHE officials said would happen as the state begins to add "probable" deaths from the virus to the official count. A total of 130 outbreaks have been reported at residential and non-hospital healthcare facilities — 7 more outbreaks than reported on Tuesday by the CDPHE.
New epidemiological modeling predicts that between 65,000 to 75,000 people have COVID-19 throughout the state, but state and health officials are prioritizing testing for those who are most at-risk.
Colorado’s death count from COVID-19 is expected to jump by about 130 this week as the state health department begins to add “probable” deaths from the virus to the count, public health officials said Wednesday evening.
CDPHE epidemiologists started reviewing cause of death information on people’s death certificates and reporting deaths into the state database that had not been previously reported, the department said.
The state said that it anticipated those new entries from this week to raise the number of COVID-19-related deaths by 130 this week. Deaths are generally a lagging data point since it takes days typically for the deaths to be classified and reported.
3:21 p.m. | Tri-County Health Department working with several counties to house homeless recovering from COVID-19
The City of Aurora, along with Adams and Arapahoe counties and the Tri-County Health Department will submit a resolution to help rent out the 122-room Quality Inn motel in Aurora so homeless who've contracted COVID-19 can have a place to safely recover from the novel coronavirus.
The resolution also states the Salvation Army will be involved by providing temporary residents three meals a day that will be paid for by the City of Aurora.
Arapahoe County Commissioners will be voting on this intergovernmental agreement for funding on Tuesday, April 28 at 9:30 a.m.
3 p.m. | Loveland safer-at-home guidance
Loveland cgolf courses and the city recycling center will reopen April 27 and April 28, respectively. Closures of city facilities such as the Chilson Recreation and Senior Center, the Loveland Museum and the Rialto Theater will extend through May 10, the city said. Playgrounds, sport courts, skate parks and other outdoor facilities will stay closed until May 11.
Go here for the full list of what's reopening in Loveland and what's not.
The JBS meatpacking plant and the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment have put criteria in place for the plant to reopen Friday, including all employees being required to wear face masks through their shift and testing employees who show symptoms.
The plant will also implement physical distancing measures for all workers, according to a news release from the health department.
Employees will be screened for symptoms daily upon entry to the plant. If an employee shows symptoms, they'll be tested on site.
2:15 p.m. | DOC and CDPHE tested at Sterling Correctional Facility Wednesday
The Department of Corrections and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment conducted widespread COVID-19 testing at the Sterling Correctional Facility Wednesday after eight inmates previously tested positive for the virus. They hope to identify other inmates, including some who might be asymptomatic, who have the virus. They have been doing contact tracing within the facilities in regard to the inmates who already tested positive.
“Any time we do widespread testing in a facility with an outbreak, we expect to see an increase in cases due to the increase in testing, not necessarily due to an increase in transmission,” said Ginger Stringer, field epidemiologist and COVID-19 response epidemiology lead, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Our strategy is to be aggressive with our testing to identify cases who may be asymptomatic, and provide recommendations to prevent the further spread of infection.”
2:14 p.m. | Bike to Work Day postponed
The annual Bike to Work Day, which had been scheduled for June 24, has been moved to Tuesday, Sept. 22, CDOT said Thursday.
“To maintain the health of riders and of our communities, we believe it’s best to delay Bike to Work day due to the current situation,” said CDOT’s Bicycle, Pedestrian, & Scenic Byways Section Manager Betsy Jacobsen. “Although this event celebrates physical fitness, social distancing would be more challenging this year if we have additional people traveling in closer proximity to each other on our bike paths and local streets.”
2:10 p.m. | Boulder County buildings to remain closed through May 31
Boulder County says most of its buildings will stay closed to the public through May 31 first, with some limited exceptions for the Boulder County Justice Center, sheriff’s office, treasurer’s office, where workers can go in a limited fashion.
The county says the governor’s safer at home guidance will allow them to develop a plan to limit staff at facilities.
“This extension to county office closures and a staggered opening allows the county time to make changes to county facilities to better protect the health of staff and the public, to limit the number of staff in county facilities to 50 percent of the workforce, and to help mitigate the impact of providing sufficient safety supplies for public spaces,” the county said in a news release.
Denver Parks and Recreation on Thursday issued a temporary directive prohibiting the possession and consumption of alcohol, beer, wine and champagne from city parks beginning Friday, through July 23.
Denver Parks and Recreation is also prohibiting group sports and activities, and shared use of equipment, such as football and frisbees, in parks during the COVID-19 response. The city is monitoring parks to enforce the social distancing guidelines.
As state health officials prepare to move Colorado from a stay-at-home order to the safer-at-home phase, they say they are in a balancing act: Continue to lower transmission of the novel coronavirus while regaining economic stability. During a press conference Thursday, they also explained how they’re working to ensure Colorado receives more COVID-19 test kits and PPE.
12:40 p.m. | CU AD, coaches take pay cut
University of Colorado athletic director Rick George announced Thursday that he will take a voluntary 10% pay cut for the upcoming fiscal year. CU's 11 head coaches will also take pay cuts for the upcoming year.
Football coach Karl Dorrell, men's basketball coach Tad Boyle and women's basketball coach JR Payne will take a 10% pay cut. The remaining eight coaches will reduce their pay by 5%.
“It’s the right thing for all of us to do," George said in a statement. "There are a lot of unknowns ahead of us, and while we don’t exactly know yet the financial impacts for the upcoming year, for them to agree and voluntarily take pay cuts is important at this time for our student-athletes and the overall direction of all our sports programs and support areas.”
More than 67,000 more Coloradans filed initial unemployment claims last week and self-employed, gig workers and others eligible for federal unemployment under the CARES Act filed more than 50,000 claims, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said Thursday.
Over the past five weeks, 298,944 initial unemployment claims were filed in Colorado. Last week, 67,334 Coloradans filed initial claims – which was down from 104,217 the week prior.
CDLE Senior Economist Ryan Gedney says officials estimate that the nearly 300,000 initial claims filed since mid-March would represent about 10% of the 3.1 million Coloradans who were employed before the COVID-19 outbreak.
And the CDLE released some demographic data that dates back to the week of April 4 showing the 16-34 age group accounted for 48% of claims since mid-March, compared to a 30% share for that age group last year.
Women also account for 55% of the filings, compared to a 40% share in 2019, Gedney said.
The CDLE said that since it launched the new application for gig and self-employed workers, around 51,000 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims have been filed.
The department said it also started to pay the $600 a week in additional Pandemic Unemployment Compensation out to people who are on regular or PUA unemployment.
The CDLE said people who filed payment claims on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday of this week should start seeing their payments coming in today. The department said there was an error in transferring claims to the clearinghouse bank that had been cleared up as of this morning.
The department said it would be email people today about when their benefit payments would be coming.
In the wake of an announcement of a new public order from Gov. Polis earlier this week, CDPHE released the public health order officially on Thursday morning. It orders workers in critical businesses and critical government to wear non-medical masks and gloves while at work.
8:30 a.m. | Labor Department announces press call at 10 a.m.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment will hold a press call this morning to review the initial unemployment claim numbers and workload increases through April 18. They will also discuss updates on support for workers and employers who have been impacted by COVID-19.
8:25 a.m. | Sen. Bennet will hold coronavirus telephone town hall today
Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet will hold a telephone town hall today from 1-2 p.m. to provide an update on the federal response to the coronavirus and to answer the public's questions.
Dr. Mark Learned from Kaiser Permanente Colorado, Greg Stasinos from the Colorado Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response/Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Mark Crisman from the Colorado Health Emergency Line for Public Information will also be on the call.
8:20 a.m. | City of Arvada extends closure of facilities
The City of Arvada has extended the closure of its facilities to the public until May 10.
According to a press release from the city Thursday morning: "The closure extension is in alignment with state and local recommendations focusing on the safety and well-being of employees and the public, and supporting the economic recovery of our community and organization. While city facilities have not been open to the public, nearly all city services have remained available to the community in a remote or physically-distant capacity. The city team is evaluating current service levels to determine when in-person services will resume as part of a phased approach and in alignment with the state’s 'Safer at Home' guidelines."
7:30 a.m. | More than 67K initial unemployment claims filed last week in Colorado
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced Thursday morning that there were 67,334 initial unemployment claims filed for the week ending April 18. Last week saw 104,217 claims. Over the past four weeks, 279,199 initial claims have been filed, according to the department.
The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday morning that 4.4 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims in the last week. That brings the total number of initial claims filed in the previous five weeks to 26 million.
5:50 a.m. | New drive-thru testing site to open in Aurora
STRIDE CHC South Aurora Family Health Services announced that it will offer COVID-19 drive-thru testing Friday beginning at 9 a.m. The facility is located at 15132 E. Hampden Avenue (the intersection of Chambers and Hampden). This is a one-day pop-up site to meet demand for testing in that area of the city. Anybody who wants to be tested must by symptomatic. No payment is due at the time of the testing. Insurance information will be collected, if you have it.
Testing is still available for symptomatic people at STRIDE CHC's two other health centers in Wheat Ridge and Del Mar.
5:40 a.m. | Wheat Ridge issues order regarding face covering
Wheat Ridge City Manager Patrick Goff issued a new order Thursday morning requiring face coverings for anyone entering a business in the city. This begins April 27 and will last until May 30.
“We realize this is more restrictive than any state-issued stay at home order or other public health order; however, the intent is to continue to control the spread of COVID-19 as we begin to reopen businesses,” Goff said. ”The governor’s safer-at-home plan and measures like this new order requiring face coverings be worn within Wheat Ridge businesses, will help to protect our community from the further spread of the virus.”
The order applies to critical businesses and requires customers to wear a medical or non-medical cloth over their faces — covering both their nose and mouth — when entering any business in Wheat Ridge.
Anybody who violates the terms of this order could face a misdemeanor offense.
5 a.m. | Happening today: Gov. Polis to virtually visit Eagle County
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis will virtually “visit” Eagle County at 3:30 p.m. today for the formal approval of the county’s request for some exemptions from the state’s COVID-19 executive and public health orders. The Eagle County Board of Commissioners will also be joined by officials from Vail Health. The event will be available to view through the Eagle County Facebook page.
Click here for the live blog from Wednesday, April 22, 2020.